By Casey Rawson
From Bryson City to Nags Head and every region in between, this year’s North Carolina Science Festival will feature a full slate of events designed to celebrate science and to engage and inspire public audiences of all ages. This year’s festival, which runs through much of the month of April, is bigger and better than ever, with hundreds of events already planned and more being added all the time. You can check out the full list at the festival’s website, http://www.ncsciencefestival.org/, but you might want to pay particular attention to the events below, which are “can’t-miss” for educators.
Special Teacher Training Workshop at the Carolina Raptor Center
Friday, April 5 at 10:00am in Huntersville; $50 per participant
A half-day of science instruction with a focus on ecology, habitats, and ecosystems. Teachers will receive instructions and participate in hands-on science activities that can be used in their classrooms. Lesson plans and support materials will be provided in a notebook to each participant. Includes a preview of the Raptor Center’s new hands-on raptor anatomy program, focused on the biological makeup of a raptor’s body.
From the Inside Out: A Day of Dissections at Discovery Place
Sunday, April 7 at 12:00 pm in Charlotte; free with museum admission
Want to get some practice before leading a dissection with your students? This event, which takes place from noon to 5:00pm, will include dissections of sharks, frogs, and fetal pigs.
Thursday, April 11 at 6:00pm in Fayetteville; free
Tuesday, April 16 at 3:30pm in Hope Mills; free
If you are looking for a new way for students to demonstrate their understanding of scientific concepts, consider having them create stop-motion animations! There are several software and hardware options out there for creating this type of product; these events will demonstrate one possibility available at local public libraries – the ReadyANIMATOR.
Hacker Friday: Making Cool Stuff with Technology
Friday, April 12 at 7:00pm in Charlotte; free
If you are tired of doing the same old things with technology in your classroom, come check out the Maker Movement at Hackerspace, Charlotte’s only open community lab that incorporates elements of a machine shop, workshop, classroom, and studio. While you’re there, you can demo, build, and play with a variety of technology including compressed air rockets, 3D printers, RC cars, and computer security.
Scope Academy at NC State University
Saturday, April 13 at 9:00am in Raleigh; free admission ($10 for BBQ lunch)
Explore some of today’s most thought-provoking topics in chemistry, physics, math, statistics, and earth-system sciences. Enjoy classroom sessions led by NC State’s world-class faculty, followed by a keynote address by Robert Califf, MD, vice chancellor of clinical and translational research, director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute (DTMI), and professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the Duke University Medical Center. This event should be an excellent opportunity for educators to hear about current scientific research in an approachable way that can be translated into K-12 classrooms.
SYNERGY 2013 Afterschool Professional Development Conference
April 15-17 in Raleigh; $160 per participant; CEU credit available
Hosted by the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs, this three-day conference will focus on increasing access to high-quality STEM-based afterschool programs throughout our state. The program will include stellar STEM speakers and workshop presenters who will share their expertise and experience with afterschool providers and educators.
Critical Thinking: How to Use Science to Take Nonsense Out of Common Sense
Tuesday, April 16, 6:00pm in Boone; free admission
What does it mean to think like a scientist? In this event, a speaker will explain the major aspects of the critical-thinking process and how they can be used to evaluate research findings using examples from the media. Developing students’ critical thinking skills can be a challenge in any subject, but especially in science where students often think there is only one “right answer.” This even should give educators great ideas for how to foster critical thinking in their students!
North Carolina Science Festival is a two-week-long, 500-mile-wide celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Across the state, North Carolinians participate in science talks, lab tours, nature experiences, exhibits, performances, and other activities, hosted by all kinds of community organizations – schools, colleges, and universities, parks, libraries, museums, and businesses.
NCSF was founded in 2010 by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and is the first statewide science festival in the U.S. Morehead continues to produce the Festival in partnership with many sponsors and event hosts. The 2013 Festival is scheduled for April 5-21, and Time Warner Cable is the 2013 Festival Champion.
Learn more at www.ncsciencefestival.org.
Casey Rawson is currently a doctoral student in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned an MSLS in 2011. She also holds an MAT in middle grades education from the University of Louisville and is a former 6th- and 7th-grade science teacher. Her research interests focus on how school librarians can collaborate effectively with teachers in STEM content areas. She has also worked on projects related to diversity in young adult literature, the literacy needs of African American male youth, portrayals of scientists in children’s picture books, and gender schemas and IT career choices.